Tyson (and Food Processing’s) Jim Rice testifies before Congress on China

James Rice, a vice president and China country manager for Tyson Foods Inc., as well as a member of Food Processing’s Editorial Advisory Board, testified before a Congressional subcommittee Oct. 11 on the safety of food being imported from China.

Drawing upon his knowledge of Tyson’s two joint venture food processing facilities plus relationships with local Chinese poultry producers, Rice noted:

"Despite wide news coverage of its challenges, China does have modern food producers who are able to produce quality products for domestic and export consumers. China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) has processes that ensure quality food products are exported. The evidence on the ground indicates that the modern manufacturers and the AQSIQ can do their jobs, and they are rapidly improving their processes."

Rice generally defended the giant country, where he has lived and worked since 1991.

"We need to consider how we work with China to be sure our relationship is mutually beneficial. The end result will be that both countries can implement the same quality standards, and guarantee that high quality products could be sold to consumers in both countries." Those also are the points he made in our October Power Lunch guest column ("Safety doesn’t have to be protectionist").

But his testimony came on the heels of a critical report from a bipartisan House of Representatives staff delegation that traveled to China in August "to ascertain whether foodstuffs from that country could be imported safely into the United States and to determine whether China has taken or is taking the necessary steps to assure the safety of their food exports."

The report said at one point: "It would appear that the Chinese food supply chain does not meet international safety standards. It is, in fact, responsible for very serious domestic Chinese food poisoning outbreaks."

Following are documents related to the hearing:

Read Rice’s testimony.

Read the staff delegation report.

A Chinese agency white paper on food safety in China – Rice says it’s the first time any agency in China has written a white paper – read it here.

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